Thursday, July 30, 2009

After Parenting, What's Next?

Despite impressive job titles, elaborate business cards, spacious offices, pricey business suits, and a torrent of pressing responsibilities, small, large and sometimes imagined...

My primary vocation these past (gulp!) 32 years has not been a job that drew a pay check. Or had set hours. Or that I could neatly leave behind at the office.

Instead, my primary vocation, as well as passion, preoccupation, and obligation, has been parenting.

I always knew I wanted children. I had my first a few months shy of my 25th birthday. Now, as I approach year 58, my youngest celebrates her 18th birthday as she packs for college almost 3,000 miles from home. (See photo above of the historic residential college to which she has been assigned.)

My days as a first-line, hands-on parent are drawing to a close.

I'd like to say that I don't regret one single moment of parenthood, but the fact is that I made mistakes, and God knows, so did they.

But that's life. That's part of the journey. That's certainly part of the process of growing up for both parent and child. That, ultimately, is a great blessing.

Yes, I always knew I wanted children. I knew I was meant to parent. And after I'm gone from this life, my main legacy will be carried by and in my children. That's how it was meant to be for me. On a deep level, I've known that from a young age...

Now, I know from experience that parenting doesn't end when they leave for college... or become adults, or marry, or even have children. Trust me on this. :)

But when they leave home, parenting intrinsically changes. That, of course, is part of God's plan.

But I find myself wondering: what does God want me to do with all my new spare time? More writing? Finally, a book or two?

Or does He have another plan?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Michael Jackson as Kabuki Theater

Michael Jackson's persona was reminiscent of (or directly lifted from?) kabuki theater, which is a centuries-old, stylized form of traditional Japanese theater.

Think about it: kubuki theater is...

* performed by men elaborately costumed in kimino garb,

* wearing heavy layers of white-pallored, make-up,

* adorned by smooth, festooned black wigs,

* vocalizing in unnaturally high-pitched voices.

Kubuki stagings are strangely charismatic, yet incomprehensible on a linear level.

The deep sadness of kubuki theater is that top practitioners live devoted to their craft, yet toil anonymously behind the mask of make-up, wigs and costumes. No one knows their heart or mind or soul.

Credible media reports... if there are any at this point... paint the portrait of Michael Jackson, sans wigs, costumes and make-up, as a balding, long drug-addicted, near-skeletal old man with ailing eyesight, significant lung disfunction, and a startlingly scarred face.

What we saw was Michael Jackson as kubuki theater, buried in personal eccentricities. We barely saw his desperate drive to hide his heart or mind or soul. Despite his sins, he seemed, at core, to be a sweet, odd, naive guy just looking for love, like the rest of us.

The problem was... Michael Jackson's kubuki theater was so damned interesting and creative. And endlessly lucrative to assorted leeches.